Cut and paste

The deadline for the 6 Pack looms and I’ve only just started on my entry. I’ve been sick for most of the week, so my carefully planned schedule to rewrite went out the window as I slept for almost two whole days. Part of me cursed myself for “wasting” time, y’know, recovering. Apparently, there is a part of me that is convinced that I am in fact part machine and not a fallible human. Actually, when I do get sick I am always a little shocked; like my body has betrayed me.

I decided that this year I’d enter an extract from my novel, partly because if it is chosen as one of the final six, a whole bunch of people will read it and, fingers crossed, like it enough to give the whole book a try. And partly because I only scheduled two weeks to get it done.

But of course I’m not going to lift it straight from the novel, that would be far too easy and frankly not my style. Hell, I’ve just rewritten a stage play into a radio play from a completely different point of view. Lift it straight from the novel? Pishaw I say sir!

So I’ve taken chapters written in Mae’s point of view from the first half of the novel, when Mae is still looking for her apprentice (January). I’ve read through the ten thousand odd words and split it up into paragraphs, that is to say into discrete thoughts (Mae’s chapters are written in first person). I numbered each one, printed them out and then cut them up. Yes, I cut them up.

I then arranged them in piles, thematically; seven in all. Which is probably too generous, but it is the first cut (ha!).

Then I did this:

blog-pics-015.jpg blog-pics-012.jpg

I wanted to write something that was an extract but could be read on its own. I plan to move the paragraphs around until I get a story arc that fits within the word limit. Already I’ve “seen” how a paragraph in chapter 1 could be married to one that is from, say, chapter 27. Also I can also see what most of the story is about as it takes up the most amount of wall. Thankfully, it is about the “apprentice” – what Mae wants, how she looks for one and the eventual appearance (in both senses of the word) of January.

It is also possibly the best motivator to get the work done. It is not hidden away in my notebooks or the computer. Nope, it’s slap bang in the middle of the lounge wall which I have to walk past to get to the rest of the house.

I can hear what you are thinking – “But,” you say slowly as if explaining to an unpredictable child, “You can do that all in Word (or whatever your word processing preference may be) why go to all this trouble?”.

Ah my friend, I like to mix it up a little. Sometimes I abandon the keyboard for a fountain pen and paper. Sometimes postcards and pencil. And sometimes I print out a whole bunch of stuff, cut it up and hang it on the wall. Because it is very easy for me to scroll through a large word document and not really read what I have written. This way I had to read it all carefully to take it apart and will have to do so again as I piece it back together.

I’ll keep you posted at how the great experiment pans out; whether I get it done by the deadline (who needs sleep anyway?) and whether the end result makes the 6 Pack cut.

So to speak.


Filed under The Graphologist's Apprentice

5 responses to “Cut and paste

  1. damyantig

    Wow, that is an interesting, time-consuming, not to mention painstaking experiment!

    I am sure going to return to figure out how it all went!

  2. I think you’re very brave to put your novel ‘out there’ before its finished. It sounds great by the way. Part of me wants to do the same on my blog but then I get nervous about it and start talking in code, no doubt confusing everyone who reads what I’ve written! I think another part of me is scared that if I tell people what it’s about, and don’t finish it, or another book turns up with the same ideas, then I will have somehow jinxed it. And yet, in others, those are the blogs I love the most – the ones that talk about the creative process openly. I’m tring to write that kind of blog and yet my own reticence gets in the way…

    I love that cut and paste exercise.

  3. Whiti

    Or (lawyer hat on) you would have a public record that you thought of it first and you could sue the buggers. Mind you, it would probably be difficult to prove that they had actually stolen your idea…
    I can understand the fear of putting work out before it is “cooked”, but it does help. Mainly because you have a bunch of people saying – “hey whatever happened to your idea about the cyborg chicken who saves the Earth from destruction?” – which makes me write the thing, whatever it may be. (You can have the cyborg chicken idea by the way, just credit me in the movie titles!)

  4. Yes, you’re probably right. I worked on and talked about The Sound of Butterflies for years that probably one of my motivations to finish it was to save face!

  5. littlegemsession

    I love the idea of cut and paste work with paper. I often do this on a smaller scale with poetry, there is something about holding the words in your hands, perhaps I’m just a kinesthetic person.

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